Book Reviews – Nov 2012 by Colin Bryce

Garry Bushell: Time For Action, The Mod Revival 1978-1981 (Countdown Books)
Garry Bushell was not only one of the first music press people to write about the Mod “Renewal” of the late 1970s but he was also one of the very first champions and supporters of the bands and their fans. While many of the other writers for the weekly music papers were quick to dismiss, laugh at, and deride the bands and their music, the fashions, and the very idea that such a thing could indeed be worthy of their precious ink, Garry Bushell was going to the gigs, talking to the kids and giving them the support and press inches they deserved. Thanks for that Garry. We owe you one.

So what we have here now, courtesy the fine folks at Countdown Books, is a collection of Garry’s music press writings on all things pertaining to the Mod Revival era circa 1978-1981. The Jam, the Jolt, Chords, Purple Hearts, Teenbeats, Killermeters, Secret Affair, Back to Zero, Modettes, Lambrettas, Small Hours and many others are featured and sit alongside some great period photos, modernist history, current insights, wisecracks and much more. If you weren’t around back then I can tell you that these articles were extremely important to those of us who supported the scene. The music press isn’t anywhere near as important as it was back in the 70s and going to the local shop and getting the latest collection of music papers was a big deal for many of us and even bigger when your favorite bands were featured inside or happened to make the cover!

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Time For Action is one of the absolutely essential reads for fans of the bands, modernism and the mod revival period. It’ll fit in nicely next to the Influential Factor, Saturday’s Kids, the Mod Chronicles series, Mods, and those rare copies of Maximum Speed fanzine. Don’t delay, get it today from: or HMV…

Russ Bestley and Alex Ogg: The Art of Punk (Omnibus Press)
It would appear that now is the time to have a look back at all things punk and that is fine by me. I’m not sure where this release sits in terms of books on the subject but I don’t really care. I’d hate the kids of today to miss out on some fabulous art and the music and people behind it.

Author Alex Ogg is well-known for his writings on all things punk and his partner here, Russ Bestley, is a lecturer on graphic design and history of popular culture at the London College of Communication. Together they have done a fantastic job and compiled some wonderful visuals. From proto-punk to the 70s New York crowd and the London scene to post-punk, hardcore, international acts, current projects and beyond you will find it here. This is cover to cover posters, record sleeves, promotional materials, paintings and zines as well as critical discussions of the work, the artists, the history and inspiration of the art, the audience and more. My guess is they could have swung a second volume with all the incredible stuff that is out there and it must have been a real challenge to select what would make the cut. (224 pages)

Paul Buck: Performance (Omnibus Press)
Author Paul Buck has done a fine job of telling the story of the making of this 60s film classic. The literary, film and visual references are all expertly dissected and the various personalities so essential to the on and off screen activities receive detailed introductions and discussion.

The story of the film is pretty much as twisted, debauched and heady as the film itself. Performance really is a little bit of art imitating life. The gangsters, rock stars, moneyed, privileged business folk and arty players of all sorts that make up the back story here are pretty much as wacked as the film characters; at least from the perspective of my little world and after reading this I must say that I don’t feel any great love or empathy for any of the major players. The late 60s, for many people, was a very dark time and in many ways the film and its story is easily as dark as the time.

For those of us who missed all the arty subtleties and that sort of malarkey – coz I’m pretty sure that like the majority of viewers you really didn’t care about all that and just wanted to see Anita Pallenberg’s breasts and a get a healthy dose of violence anyway – this book will be a very helpful guide indeed. And for those of you who just want the movie bizness round and round? Well there is that too and it’s much the same as ever. (320 pages)

Mick Farren and Denis Loren: Classic Rock Posters, 60 Years of Posters and Flyers 1952-2012 (Omnibus Press)
Here is another great book from Omnibus Press featuring page after full-colour page of art advertising gigs, bands and releases. From the earliest days of rock’n’roll and rhythm & blues to current hip hop, alternative and metal acts, you’ll find it all here from stylish boxing style package tour promo to photo-shop and cut and paste wizardry.

Legendary writer, raconteur and rocker Mick Farren alongside Detroit born artist Dennis Loren have compiled and annotated this superb collection and apart from the odd bit here and there where the period itself seemed to produce some atrocious work (yes, the 80s mostly) I would say the inclusions are well-chosen and wonderful. The point being that yes, at the time they worked (I guess) but the 80s things just haven’t stood the test of time as well as some other periods.

You will definitely find a few things that appear in other books relating to the discussion of this kind of art but fair is fair and the likes of Jamie Reid, Malcolm Garrett, Barney Bubbles, Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, Martin Sharp and Gary Grimshaw fully deserve all the attention they get.

For fans of the 50s and 60s the first few chapters include some absolutely wonderful examples from the time and the psyche heads will marvel at the trippy inclusions from the Fillmore(s), Grande and Avalon ballrooms. Fans of the current alternative scene will surely be ecstatic for inclusion of the work of Emek, Burwell, van der Ploeg and a host of other highly talented individuals and design teams. (256 pages)

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Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

One of Canada’s late 70’s “punk” rock crowd and from 1997 to 2007 the fellow behind Mohair Sweets print and webzine. Currently passes the time by playing the odd gig or two, shaking his head, wringing his hands and pondering whether or not the tape vaults of the legendary Pirates are really exhausted.

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Originally posted 2012-12-04 19:06:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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